Book Chapter

Social Work Climate Change And Colonialism



Engstrom S & Choate PW (2024) Social Work Climate Change And Colonialism. In: Baikady R, Sajid SM, Nadesan V, Przeperski J, Islam MR & Gao J (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Global Social Change. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

The preponderance of accepted science is that climate change is well underway. That has led to vibrant socio-political arguments on the implications for vast tracts of society and human ecology. This chapter is not to debate the merits of climate change science or the impact of its detractors, but to accept that climate changes are occurring, and social work is being called to examine its place in human adaptation. It is probable that higher vulnerability populations will feel the impacts more so than more advantaged populations. The economically, socially marginalized, resource-deprived, and environmentally vulnerable communities may face the greatest risks but not have the capacity to protect or respond. Canada has seen what these forms of deprivation can do to populations through its long history of colonizing Indigenous peoples and seeking to marginalize them onto less desirable lands. Social work’s role has historically been as an enabler of public policy while sustaining only a small role of opposition. This chapter argues that if social work is going to be a part of the climate change solution, its role and place in society need to shift. There is a challenge to respond in non-traditional ways, stepping out of relationships that sustain vulnerability while enabling public policy designed to avoid systemic improvements.

Social Work; Colonialism; Climate change; Indigenous knowledge; Canada

Publication date31/12/2024
Publication date online31/05/2023
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Place of publicationCham, Switzerland

People (1)


Dr Sandra Engstrom

Dr Sandra Engstrom

Lecturer, Social Work